And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.Joshua 18:1. The whole congregation of the children of Israel — Not only their elders, and heads of their tribes, who represented the people of Israel, and are sometimes meant by the whole congregation; but, as the expression may here very well signify, the whole body of the people, who, it is probable, accompanied the ark, in order to fix it in a new situation. Assembled together at Shiloh — A place in the tribe of Ephraim, about fifteen miles from Jerusalem, situate upon a hill in the heart of the country. And set up the tabernacle there — Which had now remained seven years with the camp at Gilgal. No doubt if was by God’s order that it was removed hither, for he was to choose the place of its residence, Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:14. And, it is probable, he made known his will in this respect by the oracle of Urim and Thummim, and by giving some extraordinary token of his accepting their sacrifices there. For when he made choice of mount Zion, an angel ordered the Prophet Gad to direct David to set up an altar in the threshing-floor of Ornan, and there God answered by fire, 1 Chronicles 21:18; 1 Chronicles 21:26. It would have been too far, after the division of the land, for all the tribes to go up to Gilgal to transact all that the law required to be done at the tabernacle, and now indispensably necessary to be performed there, although, while they sojourned in the wilderness, they did not observe these rules. This place was very convenient for all the tribes to resort to, being in the centre of them, and likewise very safe, being guarded by the two powerful tribes of Judah and Ephraim. And being in the lot of the latter tribe, to which Joshua belonged, and in which he probably fixed his stated abode, it was both for his honour and convenience that it was placed here; that he might have the opportunity of consulting God by Urim as often as he needed, and might more easily finish what remained to be done in the division of the land. Here, it is thought, the tabernacle remained for the space of three hundred and fifty years, even till the days of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:3. Archbishop Usher, however, only reckons the time to be three hundred and twenty- eight years. Shiloh was the name given to the Messiah in dying Jacob’s prophecy. So the pitching the tabernacle in Shiloh, says Henry, intimated to the Jews, that “in that Shiloh whom Jacob spoke of all the ordinances of this worldly sanctuary should have their accomplishment in a greater and more perfect tabernacle.”
And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.Joshua 18:2. Seven tribes who had not received their inheritance — For whom no lot had been drawn at Gilgal. The reason of which, perhaps, was, that the last-mentioned tribes of the house of Joseph were not satisfied with the division which was begun to be made there; and therefore Joshua discontinued his proceedings till he had made a new survey of the whole country, which, being now in the middle of it, he might make with greater facility than he could when at Gilgal.
And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?Joshua 18:3-4. How long are ye slack? — It is probable, that being weary of war, and now having sufficient plenty of all things, they were unwilling to run into new hazards. Give out three men — Three, not one, for the more exact observation both of the measure and quality of the several portions, and for greater assurance of their care and faithfulness in giving in their account. Of each tribe — For each one of the tribes which were yet unprovided for. They shall describe it — Set down, not only the dimensions of it, but its condition and quality, whether barren or fruitful, mountainous or plain. According to the inheritance of them — Distributing the geographical description into as many parts as there remain tribes unprovided with an inheritance.
Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.
And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.Joshua 18:5. Into seven parts — Their business was to divide the country into seven portions of equal extent or worth, and leave God to appoint which portion should fall to each tribe; who could have no reason to complain when the division was made by themselves. Indeed, no tribe was so great but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, and when they pleased they might take possession of it. Judah shall abide on the south — They shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe. Joseph on the north — In respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they.
Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.Joshua 18:6. That I may cast lots for you here before the Lord — That is, before the ark or tabernacle, that God may be witness and judge, and be acknowledged to be the author of the division, and each tribe may be contented with its lot, as being appointed by divine authority, and that your several possessions may be secured to you as things sacred.
But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.
And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh.
And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.Joshua 18:9-10. The men went and passed through the land — Josephus tells us they were occupied seven months in taking this survey, and making the description here mentioned. And described it by cities — Or, according to the cities to which the several provisions or territories belonged. Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh — That is, according to the divisions made by the surveyors, which were so just and equal that all consented the lot should determine what part should belong to them.
And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.
And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.Joshua 18:11. The lot of Benjamin came up — No doubt it was by peculiar direction of Providence that the children of Benjamin should have the first lot of these seven, next to the children of Joseph, they two being the only sons of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob. For thus it happened that their coast, or the portion assigned them, lay between the children of Judah, who were on the south of them, and the children of Joseph, the Ephraimites in particular, who lay on the north of them; the only place in which the prophecy contained in Deuteronomy 33:12, could have been accomplished. And it is observable, that, in that blessing of Moses, Benjamin is placed between Judah and Joseph, Levi having no inheritance among them. But Providence placed Benjamin here, not only that he might be next to Joseph, his own and only brother, on the one hand; but that, being next to Judah on the other, this tribe might hereafter unite with Judah, in an adherence to the throne of David, and the temple of Jerusalem.
And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven.
And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lieth on the south side of the nether Bethhoron.
And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out thereof were at Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter.Joshua 18:14. The corner of the sea southward — No account can be given of this border, according to our translation. For it is certain it did not compass any corner of the Mediterranean sea, (and no other sea can be here meant,) nor come near unto it. Therefore, by פאת ים, peath-jam, which we translate corner of the sea, must be meant the side of the sea; or rather the west side. So the Vulgate hath it, and the Seventy to the same purpose.
And the word southward is joined by the Vulgate, not to the sea, or west, but to the next words; southward from the hill, &c. Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim — The Israelites changed the name, to blot out the remembrance of Baal.
And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjathjearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah:
And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel,
And was drawn from the north, and went forth to Enshemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben,
And passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went down unto Arabah:
And the border passed along to the side of Bethhoglah northward: and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan: this was the south coast.
And Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families.
Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz,Joshua 18:21. The cities of the tribe — Having given a description of the bounds of the country, the historian sets down the principal cities in it. The first of which, Jericho, was well known; the territory of which remained, though the city itself was destroyed. And the valley of Keziz — Rather, Emir-keziz, for a city is here meant, and not a valley. Or it may be interpreted, Keziz in the valley; that is, in the plain of Jericho.
And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,
And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah,
And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:
Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,
And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,
And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,
And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.Joshua 18:28. And Jebusi, which is Jerusalem — See Joshua 15:63, where it is reckoned to the tribe of Judah; for both that tribe and Benjamin had an interest in it, as we have there stated. The inheritance of the children of Benjamin — Which was one of the smallest, with respect to the quantity of ground which they possessed, but the soil was the richest of all the other tribes, as Josephus informs us.